North Island Midweek

Encore presentation keeps theatre spirit alive

Sarah Ivens and Gaby Wickstrom are startled to discover a man (Terrance Eissfeldt) stowed in a hockey bag during the original 2008 performance of The Coffee Clutch in Port McNeill. - Gazette file photo by Teresa Bird
Sarah Ivens and Gaby Wickstrom are startled to discover a man (Terrance Eissfeldt) stowed in a hockey bag during the original 2008 performance of The Coffee Clutch in Port McNeill.
— image credit: Gazette file photo by Teresa Bird

Having gotten her first look at the script for The Coffee Clutch, an original play by Port McNeill author Terry Ruth Eissfeldt, audition hopeful Sequoia Coe was impressed.

“I’m just finally reading it,” said Coe. “It’s hilarious.”

“And you haven’t even gotten to the scene with the guy in a hockey bag,” Eissfeldt replied.

Coe was one of a half-dozen prospective actors who attended last week’s audition to read for Eissfeldt, who held three days of tryouts at Gate House Community Theatre in Port McNeill.

The Coffee Clutch is scheduled to be performed March 29-31 at the theatre, and will be the first performance by a North Island theatre troupe — outside of school plays —since Eissfeldt put on the same play in 2008 at Port McNeill Community Hall.

“I’ve had numerous people tell me they wanted to see it again,” said Eissfeldt. “And we had a lot of fun doing it.”

Live theatre has been a goal of Eissfeldt’s since she helped form the Gate House Community Association, a non-profit society which purchased Pioneer Theatre in downtown Port McNeill from Steve Jackman in 2011.

The society has utilized the theatre to show pre-release or classic movies up to three times a week, host Missoula Children’s Theatre performances, live music events, a choral workshop and even last spring’s Stanley Cup-clinching win by the Los Angeles Kings and Port McNeill-raised defenceman Willie Mitchell.

But theatre has always been the first love of Eissfeldt, who presented the previous performance of The Coffee Clutch through her business Great Fish Productions.

Great Fish also put on other live-entertainment events in Port McNeill, including an annual Oktoberfest show and a popular pirate-themed dinner.

But Eissfeldt had to learn a new way to do “business” as a non-profit after forming the association for the purpose of promoting an appreciation for the arts, to assist in celebrating local and visiting artists, to encourage arts education and to develop and promote exposure to the arts.

The Coffee Clutch is scheduled as much to gauge the local community’s appetite for theatre as it is to give interested local, amateur actors an opportunity to perform before an audience.

“The good thing about performing this play is I don’t have to pay any royalties,” Eissfeldt said with a laugh.

“And it has a small enough cast to test the waters.”

The play, which has four women’s and two men’s parts, involves a coffee shop, a famous movie star, a date won in a contest and general hilarity.

Before the curtain goes up in March, Gate House Community Association is hoping to bolster interest among local artists of all types when it hosts a membership drive meeting later this month, at 7 p.m. Jan. 28.

“We want to create a real community association,” said Eissfeldt.

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